New York Team Secures Defense Verdict in Auto Accident Matter in New York State Court

New York, N.Y. (April 10, 2024) - New York Partner James T. Whalen and New York/San Diego Partner Andrea M. Maestas recently secured a defense verdict on behalf of Lewis Brisbois’ client in New York Supreme Court, Westchester County.

In this matter, the plaintiff, a 50 year-old woman, was involved in two car accidents. In the first incident, she was operating her vehicle when a car struck her in the rear. One week later, the plaintiff again was operating her vehicle when Lewis Brisbois’ insured’s car struck her in the rear. The matters arising from the two accidents were consolidated into a single action. The court awarded summary judgment that established liability as to both accidents, and the trial proceeded as to damages only.

During the plaintiff’s case-in-chief, she alleged that as a result of both accidents, she sustained a long-term injury to her neck and lower back. She contended that these injuries required an anterior cervical fusion and discectomy and that she would require lumbar surgery in the future. After the plaintiff rested, the court granted the co-defendant’s motion for a directed verdict as to the first accident. Therefore, the jury only considered whether, as a result of the second accident, the plaintiff sustained a serious injury that would continue to cause pain and suffering as well as anticipated future medical expenses, including an anticipated lumbar spine surgery.

Following the close of trial, the jury deliberated for approximately 30 minutes before being released for the day. The next day, after the jury sent out three notes, it returned a verdict finding that the plaintiff (1) did not sustain a permanent or consequential limitation of the use of a body organ and (2) did not sustain a significant limitation of the use of a body function or system. Therefore, under New York law, because the plaintiff did not sustain a threshold injury as defined under New York Insurance Law 5102(d), she was not entitled to recover. Accordingly, the verdict was in favor of the defendant.

Mr. Whalen is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ National Trial Team and Transportation Practice. With more than 40 years of experience, he has secured over 100 defense verdicts, is one of the top trial attorneys in New York State, and is perennially named to the Super Lawyers list by his peers based on his professional achievements. Mr. Whalen also is on the Board of Directors of the Defense Association of New York, is a member of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and is the vice-chairman of Lewis Brisbois’ Construction Accident/New York Labor Law Committee.

Ms. Maestas is a member of Lewis Brisbois’ Medical Malpractice and Healthcare Practices. She regularly defends physicians, hospitals, behavioral health facilities, and medical groups in malpractice and related claims throughout California and New York. Ms. Maestas typically handles complex and catastrophic cases, including those involving adult and pediatric neurological deficits, severe orthopedic injuries, paraplegia, and death.

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